EDC must show enterprise

It takes hard work and creativity to succeed in business, and these traits should be followed by those who promote business. On Whidbey Island, that means the Island County Economic Development Council.

Whenever the EDC needs money, it prefers to ask for it from government sources. It’s so much easier than raising it yourself, as a private business or even a successful non-profit would do. Why be hard working and creative when it’s so much easier to ask for a handout?

The EDC lost a good part of its government handout earlier this year when a state auditor slapped the county’s hand for giving money from the rural development sales tax fund to the EDC. The money is for infrastructure, not organizations, the auditor ruled. The red-faced commissioners paid back to the general fund what it had given to the EDC and ended that particular handout.

To make up the resulting $25,000 gap in its budget, the EDC went to the City of Oak Harbor last week, hat in hand. The City Council was noncommittal but appears to be giving the request serious consideration. The council members should just say no. The EDC, whose track record of successfully luring new business to the community is spotty at best, should be raising its own money, not asking for tax dollars.

Churches and civic groups are always raising money for good causes, and for them $25,000 in no big achievement. They sell raffle tickets and merchandise, present car washes and bake sales, host golf tournaments and stage fancy auctions. The total amount raised this way each year in Island County is amazing. The EDC should join the fun.

Economic development is a worthy goal, but not something taxpayers should be supporting. Let the business community, which directly benefits from more development, fund this outreach program. Many taxpayers, in fact, say we already have plenty of development without trying to attract more. Government funds should be used to make life better for those already living here, not to attract more people to move in.

It’s time for the EDC to start acting like a business and bring in the money necessary to survive and prosper.

Trust us, you’ll enjoy the independence that comes with no longer being on the public dole.

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